Understanding furniture design is fundamental to the success of becoming a successful woodworker.  The subject of design is studied by the students at the Chippendale School throughout their furniture course, so that all students can incorporate their designs into their projects.

Throughout the course, students are lectured on the subject of design, starting with the history of design and historical furniture makers and their methods, right through to modern and contemporary design. Students are taught design virtues and limitations of the materials being used.

Students learn how to use old ideas and designs in a modern context and how to adapt old methods to suit new requirements and modern designs.

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Learning signature styles

During the course of their learning, the school encourages its students to develop their own ‘signature’ style, enabling them to find and adopt a style of their own that encapsulates their ideas and creativity.

Examples are studied, such as Ian Grant’s use of tartan veneers, Anselm Fraser’s own style of combining blue sycamore, copper and burr elm – and, of course, Robert Thompson, The Mouse Man, whose carving of a mouse into each of his oak pieces has resulted in worldwide fame and fortune!

The furniture school emphasises the importance of designing, adopting and using consistently their own logo or brand identity, often only a tiny feature on a piece of woodwork such as the handles on Norman Mackay’s pieces (see image above), but a detail that can make an enormous difference and become an instantly recognisable , personal design feature.

Further design detail is encouraged by the creation of metamorphic, multi-functional pieces which incorporate, for example, secret compartments and hidden drawers.  Successful projects have included items such as a modern computer desk – with no computer hardware to be seen – and a decorative veneered table which opens up to reveal a chess board and a hidden compartment for player pieces.

Studying new technologies

The Chippendale School embraces new techniques and technologies, particularly when they provide a more profitable way to achieve an end result.  For example, one student used, solely, computer design technology in his commission to re-fit a well-renowned bar in the centre of Edinburgh.

There are three core practical elements to our cabinet making course: students are required to make at least two original pieces and to professionally restore three pieces of furniture.

They are also free to undertake their own personal projects in whichever area most interests them.

See more information on the Student Projects and the large amount of time spent designing and making your own pieces of furniture.

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